The following interview with Adriana Franco appeared in a January 2001 issue of the Argentinian newspaper La Nación. The article was very kindly translated by Matias Pirolo...
Sting: "I have learnt to create without suffering". - He says that now he knows that happiness matters more than success.
"I want to sunbathe so I don't look like an Englishman, that's why I came early", says Sting, from Río de Janeiro. He's in the city where, on Friday, the third edition of the Rock in Rio Festival will begin. He will perform on the opening night. "It's a good night, because James Taylor, Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento will also be there. I'm going to play, but I'm going to listen a lot of music as well", he says to La Nación, during a long interview over the phone.
On Tuesday 16, Sting will arrive with his band to play here, in Velez Stadium. "I promise I will make a good show, we will play new songs, of course, but some old ones as well, including some from The Police. Everyone will be happy", he states.
Clearly, Sting is no longer the "King of Pain". "It's true, when you are young you think it's necessary to suffer in order to create. But not anymore, I am now committed to being happy and creative at the same time; that's my ambition, what I try to do. If I achieve that or not, It will be related with the ones that listen to my music. But to me success is not important, being happy is what matters, and I am happy. Very happy..."
"I was glad to see the album to start it's way slowly and maintain its direction, because today is still in the charts and it keeps selling copies. I guess that's because as people started to listen to it demand started to rise, and that makes me happy, because it's not good to make music that people like the first ten minutes and after some time they hate it. My music is a little bit sophisticated for popular parameters and needs to be listened many times and to be paid careful attention to. If you do that, you are rewarded. It seems that pop music still needs that."
"It's been 15 months on the road, but I enjoy it. It's interesting to see how the songs keep changing throughout the tour, every night a little bit more, we almost don't remember how they sounded in the beginning. I hope they sound better now. At least that's my intention, the songs improving as we go on the road. I like the musicians to improvise a bit every night, for that's how the music evolves."
"I don't encourage my children to get into music business, it's not what I want for them. It's true that they have to do what they want, but I won't help them in that direction".
Sting laughs. "No, simply, I believe that there are other options."
In 'Brand New Day', written in 1999, are many references to year 2000, such as turning the clocks to zero, and starting again. We are in 2001, do you believe something has improved?
"The world is a disaster, lets be honest. But at the same time, for the things to take other direction we have to be optimistic, we need to believe that everything can change for better. And I don't think I am naive for saying this, it is important to keep a healthy attitude. But there is no doubt that today it's a disaster and that I have to give optimism through my music, maybe that is why there are such lines in the songs, so I hope it will work."
You are very committed with the Rainforest Foundation, which you founded together with your wife.
"Yes, it's true, I have been working in it for 12 years. We started here, in Brazil, with the Amazonian rainforest and now we are in another 23 countries. It's a tough job, but there we are and I think that's important."
On the other hand, you signed a deal with Compaq and shot a car commercial. It's a sign of the times we live?
"I am realistic. I don't think the big corporations will disappear in some way and we have to join them and try to change the way they work from inside, better than from the outside. They have helped me to promote the album, to put it in the market and I'm thankful for that. But I still represent what I have always represented, and people knows that."
Jazz from the beginning
"My parents listened to Jazz music and other forms of music, from the 40s and 50s. It has always been part of my life, so much that I don't remember to have listened Jazz for the first time, it has always been there. But yes, I remember when I first heard Rock and Roll. It was an Elvis Presley song, and it was something very exciting for me. I like to play with jazz musicians, though it's not jazz that we do, but in the improvisation there is definitely a preference for danger, for risk".
In past records the lyrics were more autobiographical, in 'Brand New Day' they are stories, like if you were in the skin of those characters. Why did you change?
"I was bored of singing about myself and I thought people was boring too. Maybe it's a signal of maturity, an evolution, to be able to write from different perspectives, from others' point of view, like a storyteller. I'm not young anymore, I believe that when you are a young composer you tend to get angry very easily and to being subjective. When you mature you become more objective."
In 'Desert Rose' you sing with rai singer Cheb Mami. Are you interested in that music?
"The good thing is that, as in many others it's not a pure form of music, but a combination of elements that include Rhythm and Blues, Flamenco, Reggae, Pop and French Cabaret. I feel comfortable with the mixtures, the fusions. I composed a melody with Arabic flavour and it seemed natural to look for a singer from that culture."
He practices Yoga every morning.
"I have been doing it for ten years and it helps me to keep fit, it keeps me sane and connected physically and mentally. I like it a lot and it makes me feel good."
Did you ever think about reforming The Police?
"No, I enjoyed that time and I'm proud of having been a member of the band, but I don't need to recreate the past, first because it is impossible, and second and main because it's not my desire, I like the present, I like what's happening now."
But there seems to be a demand from people for that reunion to happen.
"Yes, because they are too sentimental."
And you are not?
"No, not at all."
And he laughs again. Nostalgia is not in his schedule.
© La Nación (Argentina)